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New study on snoring when pregnant

05 November 2013 09:30

Snoring when pregnant can lead to giving birth to smaller babies, according to a study

Snoring when pregnant can lead to giving birth to smaller babies, according to a study

Seeing a mother-to-be snoring on a train on their holidays abroad might not be anything to write home about for the seasoned traveller.

Being pregnant certainly doesn't stop women taking out travel insurance to get the most out of their holidays. But the snoring could be a tell-tale sign that the pregnant woman is more likely to give birth to smaller babies, according to new research.

American scientists have found that chronic snorers, who snored both before and during pregnancy, were 66% more likely to have a baby whose weight was in the lowest tenth.

Snoring was also associated with larger levels of Caesarean delivery.

The habit may be an indicator of breathing difficulties that could deprive an unborn baby of oxygen, specialists believe.

Over one in three of the 1,673 pregnant women studied suffered habitual snoring.

Child-carrying women who snored in their sleep at least three nights a week were found to have a larger risk of poor delivery outcomes, including smaller babies and Caesarean births.

They were also over twice as likely to need an elective Caesarean delivery, or C-section, compared with non-snorers, the study found.

There has been little previous research into the consequences of snoring during pregnancy.

But Dr Louise O'Brien, from the University of Michigan's Sleep Disorders Centre, said the new study suggests that there is a "window of opportunity" to screen pregnant women for breathing problems during sleep that may put them at risk of poor delivery outcomes.

Snoring is a vital sign of obstructive sleep apnoea. The condition leaves the airway getting partly blocked.

Sleep apnoea can lessen night-time blood oxygen rates and is linked to severe health problems such as high blood pressure and even heart attacks.

The condition can be treated with CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure).

This involves wearing a machine while sleeping to keep airways open.

The results are published in the journal Sleep.

Earlier studies have already demonstrated that women who start to snore during pregnancy are in danger of high blood pressure and the potentially dangerous pregnancy condition pre-eclampsia.